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Diving Into Different Styles and Legal Aspects of Remixing

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Diving into different styles and legal aspects of remixing - iMusician

Remixes are a popular form of creative expression that allows artists and listeners to re-experience songs in a brand-new way. A remix is a reinterpretation of an existing song and can range from significant transformations to smaller ones, such as turning a pop song into a techno track or simply using a part of a song for a beat.

Remixes exist in many genres but are especially common within Electronic Dance Music, Hip Hop, and Pop. They play an essential role within club culture, with many DJs and producers adding a twist to their favorite songs. Remixes are a fun way of expressing yourself creatively and a great marketing tool for those involved in DJing and producing music. Find out more about remixing styles and legal aspects of remixing!

Common examples of remixing styles

Sampling

Remixes come in different forms and formats, thus allowing for much experimentation. The most common form of remixing is sampling. In its simplest form, sampling involves taking a recording fragment and incorporating it into a new musical product, such as a beat. This technique allows artists to transcend the boundaries of genres and combine their many different influences in one track.

Sampling is especially popular within hip-hop music and is one of the historic fundaments of the genre. Many producers within the scene are known for uniquely flipping samples, including J Dilla, DJ Premier, Madlib, and The Alchemist.

However, it also plays a crucial role in Electronic Dance music's many (sub)genres, such as House music, Tech House, or Techno. For example, many DJs and producers have recently enjoyed experimenting with pop songs and turning them into Techno tracks.

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Sped up remixes

Another common approach towards remixing is increasing the tempo of a track (and sometimes the pitch, too). These so-called sped-up versions of songs are trendy on TikTok and other social media platforms. Their fast, sometimes squeaky sound is enjoyed by many and can make an already existing song sound extremely fun and energetic.

Chopped & Screwed

Next comes a style that originates from Houston in the 90’s and was developed by the late DJ Screw. It is called Chopped and Screwed and essentially consists of slowing down and stretching a song, including the vocals. Producers can then chop up parts of the track and work with repetition to make it sound more dynamic, rhythmic, and versatile. This style remains especially popular within Hip Hop and R&B and continues to influence music production until today.

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Jersey Club

The fourth style on our list originates from New Jersey in the 2000s and is called Jersey Club. The style combines Hip Hop and R&B with dance rhythms. It centers on its signature triplet kick pattern and rhythmic approaches toward melodies, making it highly dynamic and fun. Jersey Club has reemerged thanks to social media and Lil Uzi Vert, who released his song “I Just Wanna Rock” in 2022.

Drill remixes

Another style that has been dominating the Hip Hop scene are Drill remixes. Drill music is a subgenre of Hip Hop that originates from Chicago and is extremely popular in New York City and cities across the UK. Beatmakers often borrow from more or less popular songs and combine them with typical Drill drum patterns to develop highly engaging beats of all kinds.

How can artists benefit from remixing?

There are many reasons why you as a producer or DJ would benefit from getting into remixing, the first one being the sheer aspect of fun and creativity. Remixing allows creative expression, allowing artists to add their personal touch to an existing song.

This also encourages innovation, especially when genres are fused and blended, allowing for the development of new styles and subgenres. In this way, artists can explore different interpretations of their sound, which can be a valuable learning experience and good practice.

Remixing is also a valuable marketing tool for those who aspire to grow their fanbases. Sharing remixes of other songs on platforms such as YouTube or SoundCloud can unintentionally draw new fans to your music who would otherwise not have come across you. And if you’re lucky, your remix might even get picked up by other DJs or radio stations who will further contribute to your growth.

However, beware of legal traps that could potentially cost you money, such as breaking copyright laws or license agreements. Since most remixes are reinterpretations of existing songs, you have to remember the importance of copyrights.

When it comes to sampling, it strongly depends on where you get your samples from. Some websites and platforms, such as Splice Sounds, offer access to sounds of all kinds in exchange for a monthly fee. Meanwhile, Looperman offers many free samples but often requires you to give credit to the creator of a loop.

If you want to sample a song by another artist, you must obtain permission from the original copyright holder first. Reach out to the person or label responsible for the song and ask whether you can sample it. If they allow you to do so, keep written permission and, ideally, a short contract that will protect you from potential conflicts in the future.

Another option is to use music under a so-called Creative Commons (CC) license. In simple terms, CC allows artists to legally and freely use artistic content. Nevertheless, it is essential to remember that CC licenses differ and that not all CC content can be used commercially.

For example, the CC NoDerivs license does not allow any changes or transformations to be made to a song, which automatically excludes any form of remixing. Thus, you should always review each license, especially if you want to monetize your remixes and sample-based music. Creative Commons offers further insight into its license agreements for remixing on its website, which we recommend going through before using its services.

Another way of finding songs for sampling and remixing is looking into Public Domain websites such as Open Music Archive or Freesound. Music enters the Public Domain once the copyright expires, usually 50-100 years after the creator dies. As we previously explained in our article on copyright in classical music, songs can then be copied, distributed, adapted, performed, and displayed in public free of charge.

The last aspect to pay attention to is the fair use doctrine. In the United States, it exists to protect creators of unlawful claims of copyright infringements. This happens when a work is not considered unique enough (such as a simple circle) or when not enough of the work has been used to be a clear infringement. Keep in mind that this varies from case to case, which is why you should not rely on the fair use doctrine when using other people’s work.

Conclusion: remixing

Remixing is a fun and popular way of reinterpreting already existing songs. It allows producers and DJs to experiment with different genres and techniques, thus serving as an opportunity to elaborate on creativity. Artists must keep in mind the legal aspects of copyright to ensure they are not getting themselves into trouble. Once that is out of the way, remixing can be a fun and beneficial experience for everyone involved and even increase your visibility.

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